Senators Rated on 15 Key Votes, Reps on 21 Which Reveal Where They Stand on Issues

During the course of the recently-completed 2021 Regular Session of the Louisiana Legislature, the battle for the heart and soul of the state often got little attention. It was often fought in sparsely-attended committee meetings, unnoticed by the liberal media, or during floor debate on bills that never made the 6 p.m. news.

The Louisiana House is consistently more conservative than the Senate, mainly because a handful of dedicated conservative lawmakers, many of them female, are willing to do their homework and fight hard for conservative principles.

Conservative bills often pass the House, only to die in the Senate where it can be hard to find a senator willing to take political risks and fight tough battles that are necessary to preserve our values and our way of life.

During the recent legislative session, Central City News following key legislation as it worked its way through the process. At the end of the session, we found 15 key votes in the Senate and 21 in the House that best defined the philosophy and voting records of Louisiana legislators in 2021.

In the Louisiana Senate, three senators scored 90 percent or better — Sens. Heather Cloud, 100, Beth Mizell, 93, and Barrow Peacock, 93.  In the Louisiana House, eight representatives scored 90 percent or better — Reps. Raymond Crews and Rick Edmonds, 100 percent; Beryl Amedee and Kathy Edmonston, 95 percent, and Julie Emerson, Valarie Hodges, Neil Riser, and Alan Seabaugh, 90 percent.

In general, Republicans in both the Senate and House are far more conservative than Democrats.  All but a handful of Democrats are members of the Black Legislative Caucus, and they take a far-left stand on many issues with few exceptions.

The one major exception is the dean of the House, Rep. Francis Thompson, a Democrat, who had a 71 percent conservative voting record.  That places him above nearly half of the Republican lawmakers and nearly 30 points above the next Democrat, Rep. Malinda White of Bogalusa.  

Rep. Thompson have served in the House or Senate continuously since 1975, a total of 46 years.  That makes him one of the longest serving legislators of all time.  Rep. John Alario served in the House or Senate for 48 years, which may be the record.

At the bottom of the Republicans are Reps. Barbara Freiberg and Joe Stagni, both at 42 percent conservative.  That places them tied with Democrat Rep. Malina White.

The dynamics of the Louisiana House are complicated by the fact that a minority of the Republicans in the House joined with all Democrats to elect Rep. Clay Schexnayder as Speaker of the House.  The Speaker appoints all members to their committees and names committee chairmen.  This gives one person extraordinary control over the legislative process.

Conservatives complain that Schexnayder has appointed Democrats to committee chairmanships and given Democrats and liberal Republicans undue influence in a body that is overwhelmingly Republican and conservative.

Schexnayder is known to strong arm members who cross him.  Members who fail to toe his line have been removed from their committees or removed from chairmanships or had their Pentagon apartments or parking spaces taken away.

More significantly, he punishes those who fail to do his bidding by preventing their bills from coming to the floor.

During the recent session, Rep. Valarie Hodges worked hard to pass legislation insuring Louisiana high school students would study the founding documents such as the Declaration of Independence, Constitution, Bill of Rights, and Federalist Papers.  The bill easily passed the House but was killed in the Senate.  When Hodges tried to bring a resolution to do the same thing near the end of the session, the Speaker feigned support for the resolution.  However, the resolution needed a 2/3rds vote and when the required 2/3rds of the House pledged their support, he refused to allow Rep. Hodges to have a vote on the resolution.

Schexnayder often strong arms members by telling them he won’t allow a hearing on their bill and tells them to remove content he doesn’t like from their Facebook pages.

A handful of conservative bills passed during the session, but Republican lawmakers are concerned that liberal Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards will veto their bills.

The governor already vetoed SB 156 by Sen. Beth Mizell, which provides that biological male athletes cannot compete on female athletic teams in the state.  He also vetoed legislation by Republican House leader Rep. Blake Miguez that forbid Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and others from providing private funding to government bodies to run elections. Both bills could be the subject of a veto override session if one is held.

Republicans say they won’t be surprised if Edwards vetoes more conservative legislation. The Louisiana State Medical Society has been lobbying the governor against HB 498 by Rep. Edmonston and HB 103 by Rep. McCormick.  HB 498 prohibits the government from discriminating against people not vaccinated. HB 103 protects businesses from suit if they do not require employees to be vaccinated.

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